I support the Fair Share Amendment, but voted NO at the MTA Board


Raise-up-Logos-FS-1tl;dr

  • I support the Fair Share / Millionaires’ tax amendment and am dedicated to passing it
  • The MTA is being asked to contribute more than its “fair share” for the Fair Share campaign
  • More than $6 mil of MTA member dues will be committed without proper oversight
  • The Annual Meeting can amend this proposal

Today, I read an incredibly misleading email from the Merrie and Max for MTA campaign, stating that anyone who voted “no” on the motion to recommend that the MTA give an additional $6,478,000 to Raise Up Massachusetts was against the fight for a progressive income tax. They specifically called out Erik Champy and Adeline Bee, their opposition in the election, grossly mischaracterizing their positions.  This was no misunderstanding, both Erik and Adeline were very clear that they supported the Fair Share amendment and the MTA’s involvement in the campaign (including in-kind, human resource, and monetary contributions).  

I was there, listening to and participating in the debate.  Practically every board member who voted “no” took the microphone during that debate, and what the M&M propaganda machine didn’t include, is that every one of those board members made it crystal-clear that they supported the Fair Share / Millionaires Tax amendment.  They would work on the campaign and believed that the MTA should be involved in both funding and dedicating time to the cause.

So, why did I vote no?

  • There are NO controls on how this money will be disbursed. The President will have full authority to expend these funds and commit MTA resources without informing the MTA Executive Committee or the Board of Directors.
  • Based on the 79,920  full-time equivalent (FTE) used for the upcoming year’s budget, the amount requested comes out to $81.05 per FTE, more than the BEA charges for local association dues.  This will bring the total to approximately $10 million in members’ dues that will be invested in the Fair Share/RUM campaigns since RUM’s inception.
  • Virtually NO money is being contributed on the part of transportation unions or companies to support this campaign, despite the additional tax revenue being earmarked for both education AND transportation.  The MTA is picking up more than 60% of the total funding for the campaign.  (When we win, we will not only be in competition with transportation workers/unions for the funds, but also private companies that stand to profit from transportation projects.)
  • There is NO line-item budget or monthly projection of how much money will be spent or at which point between now and November funds will be spent.
  • There is NO mechanism by which the MTA Board could determine that the campaign doesn’t need to use all of the money earmarked for it. Meanwhile, there’s a good chance that the polling will continue to go our way as there is already widespread support for the Fair Share amendment.
  • The information presented to the MTA Board assumed that the NEA Ballot Measure and Legislative Crisis Fund will contribute $2.5 mil.  The application for these funds hasn’t even been started and there is no guarantee that we will receive anything.
  • If the NEA does not contribute funds, we will have to take an additional $2.5 mil out of the MTA’s reserves.
  • The current proposal already takes over $1.5 mil from the MTA reserves at a time when the Janus v. AFSME case threatens to reduce the revenue that provides vital services to our members.

There is some good news in all of this, however.  The MTA Board voted to send this proposal to the MTA Annual Meeting of Delegates.  The Delegates are the decision-makers when the Annual Meeting is in session.  If you are going to be a delegate or have the chance to speak with a delegate, there is still an opportunity to amend this proposal in order to add fiduciary oversight.

  • Require a report and line item budget/budget updates to the MTA Board or Executive Committee on a regular basis throughout the campaign.
  • Require that the money be disbursed only as-needed and approved by the MTA Board or Executive Committee.  For example, once the $2.4mil committed by the Public Relations / Organizing (PR/O) Committee has been spent, an update and request for additional funds must be submitted.
  • Demand that there is a cap on the amount that can be taken from the MTA reserves.  The limit of $1,578,000 on the original motion was stricken from the final version.  Now, if the NEA does not provide the requested $2.5mil, that additional  amount may be taken from reserves without requiring Executive Committee approval.

There is an opportunity to win the fight for a progressive income tax and still keep from bankrupting the MTA.  Stand up, speak out, and vote!

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